I’m not crazy, that I promise you. Some people thought I was totally deranged for suddenly packing up my bag in the middle of the day without any prior notice, insisting on paying a visit to “the land of magic”.
You would think people would believe me on this – that there is some unimaginably beautiful land on this planet that in reality seems like it doesn’t exist on Earth. Isn’t that what people mean when they return from a foreign city? Every time I hear the same phrases being thrown around- “heaven on earth!” and “I wish I never had to come back home!”
The only problem was that I didn’t know how to locate this “heaven on earth”. Different people had different opinions; they visited countries on totally opposite sides of the globe but came home to the same old responses each time. Apparently, the neighbours found New York City to be “ravishing”, but my uncles and aunts found it “filthy and crude”. Who was I to put my trust in? I needed to identify this magical land, and despite my internal conflict, I was determined to make it to wherever this place was.
“You can’t just reach the airport without knowing where you have to go! Are you out of your mind?!” My mother had been very restive about the whole idea. I could not understand the root cause of her apprehension, but she was generally an anxious person, so I was not surprised by her reaction. She called my father and siblings back home, and they all tried to talk me out of the idea.
They all put forth valid points- a) I was not too keen with the idea of travel, b) I had never been to any city without company, and c) there is no such thing as magic.
Maybe they were right but I had to know for myself. I tried explaining to them that there must be a place in the whole world which would be enchanting and mesmerizing. Surely, it was too big of a world.
“Why don’t you sit down, think this through. We could plan a vacation together, anywhere you want – Fiji, Bahamas, hell even Croatia! Tell me what does this magic place exactly have?” My father argued.
“Okay. We can go anytime you want, but for now, would you like to drop me off to the airport, or shall I book a cab?” I spoke calmly, surprising myself.
After another hour of failed persuasion, my mother kissed me goodbye and my siblings hugged me, while my father despite being indignant, departed from me with a warm smile and a handshake. He was not a very affectionate person.
One last look at them, and I entered the bustling airport. It was embodied with people of all kinds – first-time travellers, men in tuxedos, women handling a hundred uncooperative kids, and even the peace preaching monks wore a stressful expression. But there were none like me – in a pair of blue jeans, with a tie around my neck and my favourite pair of Converse. My luggage consisted of a small backpack with only a couple of t-shirts and some chocolate, in case I got hungry, if it was a long flight. If my land of magic was a cold one, I was doomed; if it ended up being an isolated island in the middle of nowhere, yep, I would definitely need to do some shopping.
This was a new experience for me as I had previously always travelled with family or colleagues; I wasn’t even sure where I was supposed to go or who I was supposed to talk to at the airport. Randomly picking a woman sitting behind a desk, I walked towards her and gave her a smile.
“Good evening, how can I help you?”
“Um, well, I need to visit this place, I’m not sure where – all I know is that it’s a land of magic, or so everyone says”, I explained.
She just stared at me. “Sir, would you like me to make a booking for you?”
“Yes, please. But how much would it cost? And how long is the flight? Is it in Europe?” I shot one question after another.
“That depends on where you would like to fly”, she had this fake smile plastered on her face and it irritated me.
“The land of magic.” I contributed.
After speaking to about seven attendants at the airport, I was beginning to get aggravated. How hard was it to book a flight to this magical land? Why did no one understand me, I thought almost all of the population has visited this place. Surely tourism there would be great.
Getting tired of my explanations and requests, they must have thought I was mentally unstable or a threat of some kind, and I was led to a manager. At least I think he was a manager, probably of some prestigious airline- what with his fancy clothes and shining badge, he couldn’t be a flight attendant.
“What seems to be the problem?” He asked. I wasn’t sure if the question was pointed towards me, seeing that I wasn’t alone in the room with him. There were two other women present in the room who had tried to help me but failed; they were probably curious about what my case was.
“It’s simple really – I need to fly out to the land of magic”, I repeated for the hundredth time that day.
He gazed at his staff members. “He’s been making these requests since the past hour and threatened to report us”, one of the women said.
“How is it so difficult? Has nobody asked you to make a booking to the land of magic before?” By now I had lost my cool and was raising my voice.
“Don’t be ridiculo-”
But before she could complete her sentence (which would most probably have gotten her into trouble), the manager interrupted. “Tell me more about this magical land of yours”.
“Well, it isn’t difficult. It rains there, but when the sun shines, it gleams, like it was a sparkly star in the sky, radiating warmth and happiness like dust particles in the air. But the rain isn’t gloomy, oh no, when it rains it’s the most picturesque little town you’ve ever seen – with the lights of winsome houses and café’s lighting up the grey skies.
When I say magic- I mean magic. Like Harry Potter lived here, or Aladdin paid a visit every once in a while. Where history lives but is bustling with modern life. The roads are long, smooth- the countryside is almost enveloped in lush greenery, and at the same time, the city is flourishing with life.
This land is where people feel most alive. With successful musicians creeping on the streets, almost side by side with struggling artists, and charming buskers. The food in every corner is delicious, and the people know how to party.
I know once I find this land, city, place, town, illusion or whatever it is, I’d never want to leave and that’s why I’ve been so afraid to go there. It took me 23 years but I know I want it now more than ever- it may take me a few tries to discover this land, that’s okay. But I’m going to find this place, and never going to come back here. Not because I hate it here, no I absolutely love this city but because the land of magic is enticing, it draws you in with everything it has to offer and teaches you what love is.
I’m not going to return because I am going to fall in love. This land of magic has everything I need, happiness, people, money, home, excitement and of course, love”.
The manager looked at his staff once again, then cast his eyes upon me. His eyes shone with recognition and then spoke ecstatically, “Linda, Mary, what is all the confusion about? The man has been requesting for a ticket to London”.
Written by Nandini Sethi